Two Excerpts from The Field
“Its Spicy Chicken sandwich Tuesday!” Paul says as he puts his tray down on the table and pulls out a chair next to Cole. “I love Spicy Chicken.”
“I have to agree that in its first appearance on the menu, the Spicy Chicken sandwich is fairly edible.” Says Cole.
“What do you mean, ‘Its first appearance?’” asks Paul.
“Dude, don’t you know about the Spicy Chicken Cycle?” I ask.
“No. I’m not sure I want to know, either.”
“Haven’t you ever noticed that a day or two after they serve the Spicy Chicken sandwich, Oriental Spicy Chicken is on the menu, which, by the way, is still fairly tasty and in the realm of digestible, and then after that we get Spicy Chicken balls, which I would caution you to avoid at all costs.” Cole tells him.
“Hey, man, you’re right! But I don’t really care as long as it tastes good.” Paul says and then takes a bite of his sandwich. “Mmmm.”
“You are a human garbage disposal, Paul.” Says Will. He’s mixing up his special concoction of hot sauce and ranch dressing that he puts on practically everything he eats. “There’s also a Chuck Wagon Meat cycle that starts out as a hamburger, is served up next as Salisbury steak and finishes the cycle as chuck wagon stew. Want some of my special sauce?” He says to no one in particular and pushes a paper plate smeared with bright orange sauce into the center of the table. “It makes everything taste better.”
“I’m good.” I say. I try not to think too much about what’s in the food they serve in the cafeteria.
I position myself in the goal. I touch the left side of the goal, then walk to the right side, touch it, and then move to the center and touch the top of the goal to orient myself. It’s my ritual. I crouch in the center with my knees bent and arms in position to catch a ball. I feel confident, strong – ready. The coach starts the play.
The other team immediately takes control of the ball and the play moves onto my side of the field. Good. More action for me.
The opposing team’s right forward sends the ball out to his right and his midfielder runs onto it. I move to that side of the goal and my sweeper covers the front. Our defender is all over the midfielder. I see that the opposing forward has moved into position in front of the goal to take a pass from the midfielder.
“Watch for the cross!” I yell. I’ve got the corner of the goal covered, coiled and ready to spring and I want my sweeper to cover the forward.
The midfielder beats my defender and sends a pass through to his forward. I see it coming and leap out to punch the ball clear of the goal before the forward can head it in. My fist connects with the ball with a satisfying Thwack! My sweeper takes the ball and sends it in a long arc to the other end of the field.
Yes! Adrenaline is surging through me and I’m pumped from making the save. Now the play is on the other end of the field. I watch, staying focused on the action.
The other goalkeeper makes a save and quickly punts the ball down the field before my defenders have moved back. The opposing forward runs onto the ball. He takes off, sprinting toward the goal, and beats my defender.
It’s a breakaway! my heart is pounding. It’s just me and him. The forward is approaching fast. Should I come out to meet him and dive at his feet or wait to block the shot? It’s a split second decision. Make the wrong choice and it’s a goal. Wait! A thought flashes into my consciousness. I know where the shot will be. Left side– DIVE! I’m off my feet almost before the forward’s foot connects for the shot. I feel myself flying through the air, arms reaching. The ball is rocketing toward me. Reach! Fly! Bam! The ball strikes my palms and I push it wide, deflecting it outside of the goal and then I crash to the ground.